Friday, March 3, 2017

B Championship: Glens Falls 60, Mekeel Christian Academy 55

In a wild back-and-forth battle of unbeatens, the Glens Falls Indians dug in and came away in the 4th quarter to beat the Mekeel Christian Academy Lions 60-55 in the Class B Sectional Championship at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

The game featured plenty of scoring early as the two teams combined for 45 points in the first quarter, capped by Carter Stewart's half court three at the buzzer for the Lions.  Stewart scored 18 points in the first half as Mekeel Christian Academy went to the half up by five points.

Joe Girard III started slow for Glens Falls, scoring 14 points in the first half, but started the second off with a bang, scoring the first couple buckets as the Indians quickly seized the lead away from Mekeel Christian Academy in the third quarter.  Tony Green's coast-to-coast play tied the game at 40-40, but Jordan Jackson's three gave the Lions back the lead with less than two minutes in the third quarter. 

The Lions had opportunities late in the game, like when Joe Girard III was called for the offensive charge with over five minutes left in the fourth quarter.  Mekeel would score a three on the ensuing possession to take a 1 point lead, but Joe Girard III answered back with a three to retake the lead.  Girard would dig in late with 12 points to help pad the Indians lead, and seal the Lions fate. 

He would finish with 34 points, earning him tournament MVP honors.

Tony Green assisted with 10 points, 2 of which coming by fluke as he unintentionally tipped in a rebound off a missed Joe Girard III shot in the third quarter.  Dylan Balcom added 8 for the Indians.

Carter Stewart scored 25 points for the Mekeel Christian Lions,  while Deonte Holder added 15.  Both would earn tournament team honors.

 The Glens Falls Indians next travel to Section 10 for their Regional Semifinal.

D Championship: Argyle 64, Fort Ann 60

 A battle between Adirondack League rivals turned into a battle between top scorers Kobe Lufkin and Tyler Mattison in the Class D Championship at the Glens Falls Civic Center.  But it was the weight of Kobe Lufkin's 3 point shooting that led the Argyle Scots to back-to-back championships, winning the Class D title over the Fort Ann Cardinals 64-60. 

The Cardinals flew to a 10-0 advantage in the 1st quarter before Kobe Lufkin and Jonah Horton combined to draw the Scots closer to Fort Ann, before taking a narrow lead in the 2nd quarter.  The duo teamed up for the majority of Argyle's ten 3 pointers in the 1st half. 

During the half, Section 2 acknowledged Kobe Lufkin's passing of Joel Wincowski for all-time scoring leader in the section, to a standing ovation at the Glens Falls Civic Center. 

The third quarter saw the Cardinals build another lead before the long ball allowed the Scots to regain the narrow advantage, leading 51-50 at the end of the 3rd quarter.  It was an advantage the Scots wouldn't relinquish.

Peyton Lufkin scored a three with 2:35 left in the game that put the Argyle Scots up by 6, but Fort Ann would battle back to within 2.  But that was as close as they would get, as a pair of Argyle foul shots would seal the deal with less than 30 seconds to go.

Kobe Lufkin scored 30 points for the Scots, getting 24 of those 30 points long-range.  Jonah Horton added 15 points before fouling out late in the 4th quarter, and Brodie Flewelling contributed with 11 points.

For Fort Ann, Tyler Mattison ends his high school career with 29 points, including 12 in the 3rd quarter.  Jeremy Johnson added 13 points for the Cardinals.

Argyle moves onto the NYSPHSAA State Tournament, facing the winner of Section 7's Class D title game.  The regional game will be next Saturday, 3PM at Hudson Valley Community College.

Championship Week - The Semis in Review, some thoughts & videos

With Lake George and Stillwater's wins in the Class C Semifinals on Thursday, we close the book on the semifinals and get ready for the championships coming to the Glens Falls Civic Center tonight and tomorrow.

But first, let's take a look back:

The Scores:
Class D Semifinals
Fort Ann 56, St. Johnsville 42 | Recap
Argyle 75, Northville 65 | Recap

Class C Semifinals
Stillwater 57, Maple Hill 43 | Recap
Lake George 69, Granville 55 | Recap

Class B Semifinals
Mekeel Christian Academy 55, Voorheesville 51 | Recap
Glens Falls 77, Ichabod Crane 55 | Recap

Class A Semifinals
Averill Park 51, Scotia 40 | Recap
Lansingburgh 55, Mohonasen 50 | Recap

Class AA Semifinals
Bethlehem 64, LaSalle 58 | Recap
Colonie 72, Schenectady 61 | Recap

Team of the Semis: Averill Park

It's no secret that the Warriors played this season with heavy hearts after former player and alum Ryan Bielawa was killed in South Carolina back in October.  They dedicated the season to him, and kept him in their hearts all season long, taking his #10 wherever they went, including Wednesday night at the Glens Falls Civic Center.  Everyone on that team feels Bielawa was responsible for that win over Scotia, and why Averill Park is now 32 minutes away from possibly hoisting their first Class A Championship in 11 years. 

Player of the Semis: Joe Girard III, Glens Falls

Joe Girard III's 28 second half points gave the Indians the comfortable cushion they needed to dispatch of the Ichabod Crane Riders and secure their spot in Friday's Championship against #2 seeded Mekeel Christian Academy.  He may of started cold, but buckets inside, outside and at the line helped propel his Indians to victory.

Game of the Semis: Mohonasen vs. Lansingburgh

The Class A Semifinal between these two teams seemed tight throughout, despite Lansingburgh fronting the Warriors a head start.  It was a game where you never knew who was going to pull through until the very end, and forced both teams to go all out at the end, giving the crowd that came to the Glens Falls Civic Center Wednesday evening a thrill.

With a couple exceptions, the team that came out in front at the final buzzer had to make a mid-game comeback in order to get ahead of their opposition as the higher seed.  Lake George was the only team who didn't wear the lighter jersey to advance in the end, but like said in our recap, their win over Granville was less of a surprise than Dave Jones figuring out what his team needed to do to knock off the Golden Horde.

In all these comeback cases, the opposition cooled down.  Whether it was bad turnovers or bad shot selection, or a case where the better team on paper made the necessary adjustments.  Case in point, Glens Falls, who yielded a early lead to Ichabod Crane.  Leading scorer Joe Girard III had an uncharacteristic 14 points at the half before exploding in the 2nd half for 28.  Whatever adjustments the Indians made at the half, it worked.

But all of these teams with cold starts cannot be doing this in their next game.  A slow start could prove to be fatal, especially in the case of Mekeel vs. Glens Falls, which could become a shootout at the Glens Falls Civic Center between two of the best scoring teams in Section 2.

Lufkin's Accomplishment
It surprised me that NO announcement was made about Kobe Lufkin topping Joel Wincowski's scoring mark.  I understand the comments given to Will Springstead by head coach Jack Sherwin about there being a time or a place, and I honestly wouldn't of wanted to see the game be halted for fanfare.  But it would of been nice to note the occasion via the P.A., even if said announcement came after the teams walked off the court at the end of the game.  While Lufkin's time on the top of Section 2's scoring may be limited as it will be no surprise if Joe Girard III crushes the mark in the next two years, it should of been commemorated somehow.

The Civic Center
This was my first year taking in all the games at the Glens Falls Civic Center, instead of just games of local interest.  It was nice for once to be able to see athletes from across Section 2, and see the variety of play that exists across the Section.  It's a shame this court won't see the NYSPHSAA Championships in two weeks, so why not come by this weekend to check out the best Section 2 has to offer.

Pep Bands
Hearing the pep bands Thursday night from Stillwater and Granville added a jolt to the Civic Center.  It makes what is already a great place to watch some basketball even better.   It would be nice if more schools had pep bands, and as Stillwater showed in their four piece outfit, it doesn't have to be big to be enjoyable.

Maybe the Civic Center should ask, since they are the lead-off game for the C Championship on Saturday, if their pep band can perform The Star-Spangled Banner instead of using the pre-recorded organ.

The Videos:
Voorheesville vs. Mekeel Christian Academy - The Tip

Ichabod Crane vs. Glens Falls - First buckets for the two teams

Northville vs. Argyle - Northville's Ridell drains a 3

Northville vs. Argyle - Lufkin's 3 to top Joel Wincowski's scoring record

Scotia vs. Averill Park - Early 3rd Quarter play

Scotia vs. Averill Park - Anthony Germanerio drains a 3

Mohonasen vs. Lansingburgh - Tip and Lansingburgh's first possession

Maple Hill vs. Stillwater - Tip and Maple Hill's first possession

Lake George vs. Granville - Start of the game

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Game 10: Lake George 69, Granville 55

It was a team effort for Lake George as the Warriors knocked off the top-seeded Granville Golden Horde in the Class C Sectional Semifinals in their 69-55 win.

The top-seeded Golden Horde fell behind early, but unlike other top seeds this week, was unable to mount the comeback needed to get past the Warriors as fouls, turnovers and missed shots added up, especially in the third quarter.

While Mason Flatley led the Lake George Warriors with 22 points, two other Warriors had over 10 points.  Alex Jones scored 12, while Caleb Scrime, despite missing part of the third quarter after going down hard chasing a rebound off a missed Granville shot, put up 17 points.

Matthew Fuller led the Golden Horde with 21 points, 9 of which came in the 4th quarter.  Trace Bourne scored 10 points. 

Lake George became the only team to knock off a higher seed in the 10 semifinal games at the Glens Falls Civic Center, though their win should come as little surprise to those who have observed the Adirondack League this season.  It was the second straight win for Lake George over the Granville Golden Horde, who became league rivals this year with their move to the Adirondack League from the Wasaren League.  This was the fourth meeting between these two teams this season, with Granville winning the first two.

Lake George won the two that mattered most, however, first in the Adirondack League playoffs, then now in the Class C Semifinals to end the Golden Horde's season.

The Warriors will take on the Warriors of Stillwater for the Class C Sectional Championship Saturday afternoon, 2PM at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

Game 9: Stillwater 57, Maple Hill 43

A big second quarter run lifts the Stillwater Warriors into the Class C Sectional Championship Saturday Afternoon with their 57-43 win over Maple Hill at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

The championship will be against the winner of the Granville/Lake George game, 2PM at the Glens Falls Civic Center on Saturday.

The Maple Hill Wildcats had a fast start, jumping to a narrow 10-9 advantage to open the second quarter, and after three points to take a 4 point lead, it was all Stillwater, as they established a 18-0 run to jump out to a 27-16 lead before Maple Hill scored their first bucket in nearly 10 minutes with Nate Mannion's three point bucket. 

Maple Hill did themselves few favors as they continued to turn over the ball and gave up several offensive rebounds to the Warriors.  Those woes would continue into the second half as the shooters for Maple Hill would get cold.

When the ball started going into the bucket for Maple Hill, it was little too late, as every time the Wildcats tried to narrow the advantage, the Warriors dug in and built upon their double-digit lead.  

Garrett Axtmann was a non-factor in the game offensively, only scoring 1 point for the 2nd best scorer on the Maple Hill squad.  Austin Decker led the Wildcats with 16 points, while Nate Mannion, the team's #3 scorer, added 15 points. 

Jared D'Aloia led the Stillwater Warriors with 22 points, and Ezra Echeandia and Zack Travis both scored 12 points a piece for the #2 seed in the Class C bracket.

Championship Week - The tournament so far, and Day #4 Preview:

We're halfway through Championship Week.

Four of this weekend's Championships are set, with the fifth being decided tonight.  Most of the games have been close, but the ones that didn't end close had a case where the other team had a chance for a good portion of the game.

First, the results from the first 8 games:

Class D Semifinals
Fort Ann 56, St. Johnsville 42 | Recap
Argyle 75, Northville 65 | Recap

Class B Semifinals
Mekeel Christian Academy 55, Voorheesville 51 | Recap
Glens Falls 77, Ichabod Crane 55 | Recap

Class A Semifinals
Averill Park 51, Scotia 40 | Recap
Lansingburgh 55, Mohonasen 50 | Recap

Class AA Semifinals
Bethlehem 64, LaSalle 58 | Recap
Colonie 72, Schenectady 61 | Recap

That makes the championships as follows:
(all games at the Glens Falls Civic Center)
Class D Championship - Fort Ann vs. Argyle - Friday, 6PM
Class B Championship - Glens Falls vs. Mekeel Christian Academy - Friday, 7:45PM
Class A Championship - Lansingburgh vs. Averill Park - Saturday, 4PM
Class AA Championship - Colonie vs. Bethlehem - Saturday, 8PM

The Class C Championship is Saturday, 2PM.  The two opponents for that game will be decided tonight as Maple Hill, the Cinderella story of the Class C tournament play the #2 seeded Stillwater Warriors in the early game.  The nightcap features an Adirondack League rematch as the newest team in the league, the top-seeded Granville Golden Horde, take on the Lake George Warriors.

Maple Hill Wildcats vs. Stillwater Warriors - 6PM
Maple Hill: March Madness is about being hot at the right time.  A cold December and January doesn't matter when your team's hot in February and March.  And that summarizes the story with the Wildcats, who come to the Glens Falls Civic Center as the highest seeded team of any of the 20 teams that come this week.  At #14, the Wildcats were at home in their outbracket game against Greenwich, but had to go on the road to face a Greenville squad they lost to twice earlier in the season.  Then a neutral-site game against a battle-tested Mechanicville set them up for tonight.

On paper, the thought would be to contain the team's leading scorer, Austin Decker.  But in two of the three tournament games, Decker has scored below his average, scoring 7 points against Greenwich and 11 in the quarterfinals against Mechanicville.  Nate Minnion scored a season-high 17 points instead against Greenwich, and team's second-leading scorer Garrett Axtmann contributed against Mechanicville.

The defense will get a test against Stillwater that they haven't seen in the first three tournament games.  Allowing an average of 48 points in the tournament, the Wildcats have not needed an offensive explosion to be successful.

Stillwater: Jared D'Aloia is going to be the player to watch for the team from the Wasaren League.  The tournament's #2 seed comes to Glens Falls off a 65-50 win over Duanesburg where D'Aloi scored 22 points.  But containing him will be tough, and focusing on him will lead to trouble if secondary scorer Zack Travis is left alone.  He scored 16 against Duanesburg, and has compiled 8 games where the senior has scored 20 or more points.

The Warriors last loss, to Hoosic Valley, was a game where Stillwater entered the 4th quarter with the lead before the Indians outscored the Warriors 24-8.  Even in that game, D'Aloia and Travis produced to their averages, which will make them tough threats to watch out on the court.

Stillwater cannot look at Maple Hill's record and seeding.  Nor can they let the bigger atmosphere of playing at the Glens Falls Civic Center affect their style of play.  Already this week we've seen the higher-seeded teams have soft starts, only to explode in the 3rd and 4th quarters.  And if Stillwater wants to have a decent shot at winning the sectional title on Saturday, they may need to play a full four quarter game.

Lake George Warriors vs. Granville Golden Horde - 7:30PM
Lake George: The Lake George Warriors won the latest chapter against the new team in the Adirondack League before falling to Fort Ann in the league championship.  A quick look at the Warriors show no player with 20 points per game, but there's a good reason for it.

They have three threats on the court who can score.  Caleb Scrime has 9 games with 20 or more points this season, including a 20 point effort in the 1st round of the Class C playoffs against Cambridge.  Against Schoharie, he scored 15 points, but it was a team effort as teammate and 3rd scorer on the team, Mason Flatley scored 16 points in the win.  Flatley has three 20 point games this season, the latest being a 21 point game against Hadley-Luzurne last month.  The two are joined by Alex Jones, who himself has three 20 point games this season as well.

Containing one top scorer can be easy.  But three will be a difficult case for opponents to solve.

Granville: If Granville has something going from them from the start, it's that they have defeated the Warriors twice already this season.  And the Golden Horde have the best offense in Class C, and the 7th overall in Section 2.

Matthew Fuller is a big reason why.  Just under 20 points per game, the team's leading scorer and 3 point shooter has helped fuel the Golden Horde all season.  But Lake George is his Kyrptonite, being held to only 29 points in three meetings this year.  The senior will need to figure out how to overcome the Lake George defense tonight.

Fuller isn't the only player responsible for Granville having the 7th best offense in Section 2.  There's three other players who average above 10 points per game.  Trace Bourne and Morgan Williams are threats behind the arch, and Matthew Parker has a deadly inside game.  It will require a team-wide defense to slow the Golden Horde down, but it is something Lake George has shown they are capable of.

It should be a fun 4th match between these two teams, especially since there's more on the line here than there has been in their first three meetings.  A trip to the Sectional Championship.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Game 8: Lansingburgh 55, Mohonasen 50

It was a tough beginning for the Lansingburgh Knights, but with a team effort, the Knights came back to knock off the Mohonasen Warriors 55-50 in the Class A Semifinals at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

The Knights were unable to buy a bucket early, scoring their lone two points off free throws in the first quarter.  But the rim started to be kinder to the Knights.  But the second half completed the Knights comeback, fueled by contributions by Justin Van Ness and Jahidi Wallace. 

The top-seeded team in Class A finally obtained their first lead of the fourth quarter, resulting in a wild back-and-forth game with the Warriors until Justin Van Ness's two free throws with 1:39 left gave the Knights a four point lead.  The Warriors were unable to make the shots they needed to down the road, and after several free throws by the Knights, Lansingburgh secured the victory to move onto Saturday's championship against Averill Park.

Justin Van Ness finished with 17 points, 8 of which came in the 4th quarter after returning from an apparent nosebleed that forced him out in the 3rd quarter.  Jahidi Wallace added 14 points. 

For Mohonasen, a sharp beginning turned cold as the game progressed.  Dylan Tallman, Mohonasen's top scorer in the first half, was held to only 4 points as the sophomore guard finished with 22 points.  Jalani Abdul-Aziz helped out with 9 points in the 3rd quarter to give him 17 for the game.

Game 7: Averill Park 51, Scotia 40

In an emotional game for the Averill Park, the Warriors mounted a massive run in the final quarter as they beat the Scotia Tartans 51-40 Wednesday night at the Glens Falls Civic Center to advance to the Sectional Championship.

They will play Lansingburgh Saturday afternoon, 4PM, at the Glens Falls Civic Center.

The Tartans went to the locker room ahead by 1 after a traditional three point play was scored at the buzzer, and remained close until the Averil Park run in the 4th that put them up as many as 17 points.  The Tartans tried clawing back, getting the lead back within single digits, but then Noah Yearsley and Anthony Germanerio dug in and scored to put the Tartans at bay.

After the game, Averill Park coach Dave Pugliese told the Troy Record the win was attributed to fallen alum, Ryan Bielawa, who was killed in South Carolina back in October.  The team dedicated the season in his memory, and have worn Bielawa's number 10 on the back of their warm-up shirts all season long.

With one more win, Averill Park will win their first Sectional Championship in 11 years.